Book Club for Kids was invited to speak at the Illinois Library Association convention this month and we had the opportunity to pick the brains of some of the brightest librarians in the country, asking them how to get reluctant readers to pick up a book.
Shaira Rock is the middle school services and technology librarian at the Elmhurst Public Library. Her secret weapon: the graphic novel version of Rick Riordan's "Percy Jackson" series. Shaira calls them "a gateway drug to reading."
The books are short, they deliver the whole story, and they provide the visuals when a page full of nothing but words is just too intimidating. Once kids get hooked on the graphic version of the Rick Riordan series, she then moves in with the line: "Did you know Percy Jackson has a fiction book, too?" The answer is usually, "It does? Can I get the next volume?" Once they've inhaled the entire series, Shaira says they ask for other fiction books like Percy Jackson.
Shaira says not to worry that fans of graphic novels will get stuck. She says kids occasionally do go back to graphic novels, but that just means they're touching base with "what they're familiar with and what they love. It's only a matter of time," she says, "before graphic novels is not enough."